Great Australian Railway Journeys

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Kuranda to Townsville

Series 1 - Episode 5 Kuranda to Townsville



Michael Portillo ticks off a couple more clichés on his great Aussie checklist when he joins a roistering chorus of Waltzing Matilda with a group of drinkers in a bar, under the watchful gaze of a picture of the Queen, and throws a boomerang. And no, his boomerang does not come back.

Everywhere he goes he’s greeted with cheery bonhomie and a warm welcome as he explores the coastline of north Queensland. A local councillor is particularly voluble as he explains how the pretty town of Innisfail came to have some glorious examples of the most beautiful art deco buildings. There’s seriousness, too, with the sorry story of the unpalatable treatment of the Aborigines.


Michael Portillo travels by rail through Queensland, marvelling at the engineering expertise of a railway line built in the 1890s. He visits a plantation where he learns how to harvest sugar cane, finds out how the townsfolk of Innisfail withstand the tropical storms that strike the region and ventures into the hinterland, where he braves a crocodile safari. At Mungalla Cattle Station, he hears how aboriginal people faced brutality at the hands of 19th-century settlers and after a singalong, he makes tracks for his end destination of Townsville - the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Michael Portillo
Director Ben Rowland
Series Editor Alison Kreps